In the direct-to-video universe, "erotic thriller" usually means bare-bones murder mystery spiced up with nudity and sex scenes. But SEXUAL INTENT is an unsettling original, weaving eroticism into the texture of the film as an inveterate ladykiller beds and bilks the lonely-hearted for
cash and kicks--until the day his sacrificial lambs turn into wolves out for con-man blood.
When battered wife June Baldwin (Sarah Hill) meets Randall Miller (Gary Hudson) at the hospital, she's fooled by his sympathetic front, not realizing that he's a man of many aliases. Randall preys on June's vulnerability, closing in for the kill by playing weekend dad and protecting June from
her abusive ex-husband. He jilts June at the altar, and she's furious when the police tell her they can't do anything about the blackguard to whom she foolishly signed over her house unless she can come up with some hard evidence. Meanwhile, Randall's psychotherapist (Erica Howard) listens to
taped interviews with despairing women who've been betrayed by men, never imagining that Randall is using her just as he uses every other woman unfortunate enough to succumb to his charms. Randall is shacked up with an exotic dancer named Terry (Christine Sholle), to whom he's promised the moon,
and even turns a mugging to his advantage by wooing the nurse in the hospital. Concentrating on his wealthy shrink and simultaneously posing as a Christian in need of redemption so he can woo a rich evangelist, Randall is unprepared for June's revenge. She uses her position at the bank to make his
life a misery of frozen assets and, with the help of her friend Kathy (Mary Baldwin), trails him to a storage room and steals back enough to save her house from foreclosure. Randall retaliates by beating and raping her, but after a chance meeting with the nurse he betrayed, June's determination to
make him pay is renewed. While honeymooning with his rich evangelist bride, Randall is kidnapped by masked figures and brought to the desert. His hooded tormentors are, of course, June and the other women he has wronged. June shoots Randall, who calls his therapist for help. She comes to his
rescue, but is blinded by the sun and accidentally mows Randall down with her car.
SEXUAL INTENT is a modern fable about trust, an intelligently written film that establishes its female protagonists' pain and self-doubt subtly and quietly. Randall Miller is the immediate cause of their problems, but he's also a symbol of the tactical advantages men seem to hold over women.
What drives the picture is the filmmakers' success in showing us how brilliantly Randall has analyzed the weaknesses of the women he seduces and betrays; as the therapist's patients ramble on angrily about men, we cringe at how easy it is for him to manipulate their psychological wounds. SEXUAL
INTENT is also unafraid to portray the women as complex characters, rather than beleaguered saints. The therapist, for example, is a formerly obese woman who's cruel to her slightly overweight receptionist.
Superbly acted by most of the cast, SEXUAL INTENT leaves a few too many loose ends for a movie with its foundation in fact (the credit reads "based on the John Walsome case file"), and starts to fall apart during its surreal climax. And though Miller gets his just desserts, the fact that the
payback is accidental--at the hands of a woman as blinded by the sun as she was by his seduction--is unsatisfactory and stretches credibility. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, extensive nudity, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: In the direct-to-video universe, "erotic thriller" usually means bare-bones murder mystery spiced up with nudity and sex scenes. But SEXUAL INTENT is an unsettling original, weaving eroticism into the texture of the film as an inveterate ladykiller beds an… (more)